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Full text of "A search in secret Egypt"

CHAPTER XV
KARNAK NIGHTS
MOST fascinating were my midnight visits and especially the one which happened under a full moon. The nights of Egypt placed her ancient temples under a mysterious light that fittingly revealed what should be revealed and hid the rest in a gloom that suited those temples well.
I had taken various methods of approaching Karnak by night, all equally charming. I had floated swiftly in a boat with a huge sail, under a strong breeze, down the Nile; I had ridden slowly in the saddle, on a plodding beast; and I had driven up the old highway, in a more or less comfortable horse-trap. But on this night of the full moon I could find no better method of approach than to walk the few miles as the old priests walked, even in the days of the pomp and pageantry of old Egypt. The silver sheen glittered over the white dust that lay so thick upon the road on whose edge I walked. Now and then bats dipped down through the air and darted off again shrieking. But otherwise a great stillness had fallen upon the land, not to be broken until 1 reached the village of Karuak itself, where shadowy robed figures passed me in the night—sometimes with dancing lanterns in their hands—and where the yellow gleams of lamp-light shone through unglazed windows. My feet silently trod the soft, sandy dust which covered the route; yet those keen-eared peasants seemed to know, as by a sixth sense, that a stranger was moving at night through their village, for they came in ones and twos to their doors to look at me, or peered quizzically out of their windows. The thing was inexplicable and, in the unreal worid created by a full moon, weird in the extreme. Their movements set a dog or two barking half-heartedly, but I put both them and myself at case with a muttered greeting though I never stopped. I understood them well, these simple, pleasant folk, who took the minor